First Who, Then What…

For anyone who has read Good to Great by Jim Collins, this will be a familiar refrain. Sometimes, I sing this phrase like a Shakespearean couplet. Why is this on my mind as I reflect on the value of the MBA program, you might ask? Well, the most common answer that I get when I meet a business owner is that their people are their most valuable asset. And guess what – they mislead. Perhaps not the nasty lie that comes from getting ones hand caught in the cookie jar, but a more subtle form of self deception.

If people are your most valuable asset, then why do the following questions get met with so little clarity.

1. Have you ever hired an employee that you later regretted the decision?
2. What specific process do you follow to make sure your people are the best available and an ideal fit for your company and the needs of the role that you will be asking them to play?
3. In accounting, an asset is found on the balance sheet, and an expense is found on the income statement. Business nurture their assets through maintenance and upkeep, for example. In what was do you upgrade your people assets to ensure that they deliver increasing value?

Some businesses figure this out. How do we know this? Quite simply by the experience we enjoy when frequenting their business because it is as pleasing as it is dependable. Have you ever wondered how they do it? As business owners, we fish from the same pond of candidates, yet a small, select group of companies find the best fish.

I started by writing on the topic of WHY, this is a topic of HOW. Small businesses have no margin for error in the decision to hire a new employee, yet have no defined process to make the best choices. Remember the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result. The HOW in addressing this insanity can be found in the experiences of your MBA group/cohort. Who has time to spend getting better? Or better yet, who should invest time in getting better? Only the person who has no time because they have to make up for the deficiencies of their hiring process.

As a student of the Loyola MBA Program, you can see your business differently simply by investing your time to “sharpen the saw.” And that will be a topic for another post.